Monthly Archives: February 2012

Limits of Social Influence on Giving

Decisions of individuals and households about how much to give and which charities to give to are affected by the behaviour of other people around them and the communities they live in. In a contribution to a conference in London I present evidence from tax records and three large scale field experiments testing social influence effects on giving in the Netherlands. The experiments are conducted among university alumni (n=6,672) and among large random samples of the Dutch population (n=1,474; n=1,765). Also tax records are used to test peer effects among a very large random sample (n=172,947) of citizens in the Netherlands. The experiments show evidence for positive but weak social information effects on small donations. Social information effects are stronger in conditions in which people are actively imagining what others are giving. The tax records show that amounts donated by high level donors (exceeding 1% of income) are strongly sensitive to changes in the tax price as well as to changes in giving by other high level donors in the area of residence.

The paper is available here.

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Filed under charitable organizations, household giving, incentives, taxes